Since its debut in March 2006, the culinary reality competition Top Chef has taken the food industry by storm. It's widely respected as an informative and exciting television program. This year the fourth season really made headlines when the first female cheftestant, Stephanie Izard, was crowned Top Chef.
She blew the competitors away with her composure and culinary expertise. We knew Stephanie was a force to be reckoned with after the first episode. We had the pleasure of speaking with her before the competition and learned that although Izard was from Chicago, where the show was filmed, she didn't have an advantage. We admired her straightforward approach, nice girl persona, and get-the-job-done mentality. We even wanted to jump into our screens and devour her bite-sized banana bread. Obviously we weren't the only ones who enjoyed Izard: In the reunion special, she was declared the fan favorite.
After she was named Top Chef, Stephanie explained why she won, "I don’t have a big ego, and I have a way of earning the respect of my peers and my employees without screaming. Being a perfectionist, it’s my detriment that I’m just never happy with anything. But I'm always pushing myself to get better and better."
The chef is currently working on her next project: a gastropub-style restaurant set to launch next Spring in Chicago. Only time will tell if this establishment, which will have an open kitchen and her Top Chef friends as guest chefs, makes headlines in 2009.